Real Estate

Do You Really Need to Downsize?

Many wealthy boomers are choosing between luxury downtown condos and staying put on suburban acreage. Here, two case studies in how the lifestyles—and neighborhoods—measure up.

The Downsizer

downsizing vs supersizing
Wendy Banner can walk to almost anything she needs—the gym, shopping, dining—from her building. Photograph by Veronica Sequeira.

Wendy Banner and her husband recently traded the 13,000-square-foot “dream home” they once shared with their children in Bethesda’s Burning Tree for a 2,800-square-foot condo in downtown Bethesda.

Why do you choose to live where you do?

The condo is close to restaurants, movies, the gym, work, and Metro.

What’s the best thing about your neighborhood?

It’s a residential block right in the heart of south Bethesda.

Describe your community.

The building is all empty-nesters like us. We bump into people we know, both who live here and who are coming here to eat out.

How many friends can you comfortably invite for dinner?

Twelve.

How do you get to DC?

Metro or drive.

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After the blizzard, how long before you could get out?

I went to Florida, which says a lot. We left town and didn’t have to worry. We’d been through snowstorms with the house, and you have to worry about things like the gutters falling off.

How often do you drive?

Five days per week.

How often do you take Uber?

Couple times a month.

How often do you ride Metro?

Three to four times a month.

Name three places you walk.

The gym, the movies, out to dinner.

What does where you live say about you?

That we still want quality and a nice lifestyle. We don’t have to give up living in a nice home because we’re living in a smaller one.

The Supersizer

downsizing vs supersizing
Bruce Menditch loves his home’s peaceful back yard and proximity to bike trails. Photograph by Veronica Sequeira.

Bruce Menditch, a custom builder, constructed his own 7,000-square-foot home on a half acre in the Avenel golf-course community of Potomac more than 20 years ago. He and his wife have no plans to leave.

Why do you choose to live where you do?

We’re using a lot of the living space for ourselves—for my wife’s photography, for an exercise studio, for family. The kids come, and they have a place to stay. I have a nice back yard with privacy.

What’s the best thing about your neighborhood?

We know everybody.

Describe your community.

Very close-knit.

How many friends can you comfortably invite for dinner?

Thirty.

How do you get to DC?

Drive.

After the blizzard, how long before you could get out?

We were out the next day. Avenel has a private plowing service.

How often do you drive?

Daily.

How often do you take Uber?

Never.

How often do you ride Metro?

Not very often.

Name three places you walk.

Avenel Park, Rapley Preserve, the neighbor’s house.

What does where you live say about you?

It’s very accessible to all the bike trails and Great Falls Park. Having that is essential. I’m going to be 61, but I still bike and I’m physically active.

Want see more of the best places to live around DC? Check out our guide to find which neighborhood is right for you.

This article appears in our April 2016 issue of Washingtonian.